Grand Finals throw up all sorts of questions. Like the correlation between risk and safety, daring and security, scoring and minimising, attack and defence.
Look at the famous Sydney Swans model, which from a culture and leadership perspective is unmistakably elite.
However I’m not certain they have chosen the correct strategy or tactical method.
Let’s look at the facts.
Paul Roos, Ross Lyon and John Longmire have all come from the same system. They have all coached together in their formative years at the Sydney Swans.
Since 2005, Paul Roos, John Longmire and Ross Lyon have coached their respective teams into 8 of the last 12 Grand Finals. That’s a mighty impressive statistic.
They have competed in 9 Grand Finals including the drawn GF in 2010 with the Ross Lyon Saints and Pies.
Collectively the three have won 2 premierships over those 9 Grand Finals. Not a great return by any standards.
One can’t help but focus on the fundamental game plan adopted by the three very closely connected coaches. Perhaps if Paul Roos didn’t win in 2005, the magnetic influence over Longmire and Lyon would not have been so dominant or overpowering. This was at a time that Roos adopted the ‘lock down” on attack and drained the instinct and initiative out of players into a dogged team defence, systemised with strategic and tactical warfare. It was very successful at ensuring the team was competitive however somewhat unsustainable from a premiership perspective as the results show.
History will also determine that Ross Lyon took the manic defence to a whole new level during his reign at the Saints which when considered against the significant talent pool was somewhat of an anchor in their quest for a premiership.
Let’s look at the goals scored in those 9 Grand Finals:
2005: 8 Goals & Premiership
2006: 12 Goals
2009: 9 Goals
2010: 10 Goals
2010: 7 Goals (Replay)
2013: 8 Goals
2012: 14 Goals & Premiership
2014: 11 Goals
2016: 10 Goals
Those 9 Grand Finals amount to a total of 2 Premierships (2005 & 2012) and 89 goals for an average of 9.9 goals per Grand Final whilst their opponents have scored 112 goals or 12.5 goals per GF.
The facts are that EVERY team has 5 minutes of glory Grand Final day and in that time 3 or 4 goals is usually enough to hit the lead and demoralise the defensive mindset of the opponent.
The Eagles did in ’06, those blasted Cats did in ’09 as did the Pies in ’10 along with the Hawks and Western Bulldogs in more recent years.
Those precious few minutes of goal-scoring glory breaks the back of the team focussing too much on defence.
Luke Beveridge instilled a dare to be different approach into his team. He asked them to look defeat in the eye. You have to be prepared to lose to win. You must pull the trigger. Risks need to be taken. Daring is a by product of competition. It is a totally different mindset but one that will prevail over the manic defence based strategy – thank heavens for Bevo!